Like many people, I grew up with the belief that adoption is the perfect solution to everyone’s family problems. Having been adopted as a toddler myself, my belief in this was especially strong. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that, like many things, adoption is way more complex than it seems.
Here, I’m going to present to you some very common claims that are associated with infant adoption, and present you with some questions, facts, and my own personal experience that may cause you to think, reflect, and possibly even change your perspective on infant adoption.
1- Adoption is the perfect solution for a childless couple that is infertile, unwilling/unable to give birth:
While this may make a lot of sense initially, there are a lot of complexities that are different from child to child. Many adoptive parents go in expecting to adopt a baby as “clean slate”. They’re expecting a baby with no trauma that they can take in and easily pretend that they’re theirs. While this can come from a place of love and a strong desire to raise a child, it can be an extremely problematic way of thinking.
Almost every single child that goes through the foster care system, an orphanage or adoption, will have faced trauma and adversity. No matter how young they are when they expereince this, they are not untraumatized, “clean slates”.
As suggested in this article, many people are too quick to say that adoption is a perfect thing for helping orphans and childless infertile parents. But people are not thinking critically enough to realize that these children are not blank slates you can raise on your own, but they have trauma and possibly behavioral complications, and they may also be able/wanting to return to the bio parents depending on the situation and (lack of) resources.
2- Adoption gives the child a better life:
Better how? Why is it that an adoptive couple who can pay $25,000 are automatically better parents than the birth family?
As explained here and here, many pregnant birth mothers who show up to adoption agencies are pressured into giving their child up for adoption when that’s not their first choice, but they cave because they know they lack the resources (money, childcare, medical care, food, toys, clothing, safe housing, parenting knowledge, etc) to give their child the life that they deserve. In many instances, both families are suitable, so why put the child through the emotional trauma of losing connection to their birth mother? If the birth mother wants to keep the child, she should be given the resources to do so.
Many times, the government is quick to take babies and children in poverty away from their biological family and place them in the care of those who are richer and more privileged, and then pay them to care for these children. Why? Why not redirect this money so the child can stay with their family? Instead of paying thousands in adoption fees, what if that money went towards housing, medical care, food, clothing, and other needs for mother and baby? If you truly want what’s best for the child, we need to consider the emotional trauma of mother/child separation and changing families/homes often.
3- Adoptive parents are better than biological parents because they’re more prepared to deal with a child than a bio parent who is coping with an unplanned pregnancy:
Many parents are uneducated and not ready to take in a baby or child with an unknown history and/or a history of severe trauma, abuse, or neglect. Often times, these adverse experiences lead to behavioral complications, extra medical/therapeutic needs, or an inability for the child to smoothly transition into the family without consistent outside support from social workers, therapists, doctors, or other professionals.
Also, I can’t stress this enough, adoptive parents must be trauma-informed. As explained here in this article, every child who is adopted or been through an orphanage or foster care has trauma. Whether is it was child abuse, neglect, sudden death or illness of caregivers, or a birth mother deciding to put her baby up for adoption- whatever the reason a child ends up without parents, the child has been through enormous turmoil and adversity, regardless of their ability to (eventually) remember it. If you’d like more information on the trauma of early mother/child separation, I highly recommend looking into the book, “Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier.
As explained in this article, the goal of adoption is to ultimately give a child a safer, healthier home life. If the best way to do that is to keep them with their birth parents and provide them with the monetary and physical resources they need, why don’t we do that instead of pawning (Read: selling) them off to unknown strangers? If you truly want to help a baby or a child, why not foster and give them a loving home while DHS and the biological parents figure out what is best for the child’ whether that be adoption or foster care until the biological parents are ready and able to care for their child again.
My goal here is not to fight for abolishing adoption, nor to dissuade a future adoptive family from taking a baby or a child, but to encourage you to rethink all the consequences of adoption, not just the good ones. I just want people to see adoption as a spectrum of gray, not a black and white, good or bad subject.
Adoption is a very personal, case-by-case thing. Despite having been adopted by caring parents who wanted to see me thriving and successful, I grew up neglected and either low-income or in poverty most of my life. I also suffer from Major Depression, an attachment disorder, and have struggled emotionally and behaviorally both at home and in school my entire life.
While it may be a very positive experience for one child, it can be a stressful, devastating experience for another.
I’ve noticed that many people only see the positivity and magic that comes with adoption; but for the sake of the children whose lives have been forever altered, I think it’s imperative we all take the time to reflect on the painful, traumatic side of adoption too.
Let’s take care of our most vulnerable children, and give them the power to heal and live in the situation best suited for their needs.